Thursday, November 29, 2018

Gibbs Introduces Legislation to End Obama-Era WOTUS Rule Permanently

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- On Thursday afternoon, Congressman Bob Gibbs co-sponsored the introduction of the Regulatory Certainty for Navigable Waters Act, which will fully repeal the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States Rule issued in 2015. Gibbs has been at the forefront of stopping this bureaucratic overreach since its inception. Previously, he filed an amicus brief in support of states suing the EPA over WOTUS, led the passage of the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act in 2015 to stop the WOTUS rule process, and introduced a resolution urging the repeal of this rule.

After introduction of the Regulatory Certainty for Navigable Waters Act, Congressman Gibbs released the following statement:

“It’s time to put this issue to rest. The 2015 WOTUS Rule was clouded by an illegal promotion process during the public comment period, has been challenged by a wide range of stakeholders as well as a majority of states, and put on hold by multiple judicial jurisdictions. Since January 2017, Congress has been working with the Trump Administration to roll back the regulatory overreach of Obama-era bureaucrats and repealing WOTUS is a large part of that.

“Having fought the over- expansive WOTUS rule tooth and nail since it was first proposed, I am co-sponsoring this bill to fully repeal it and set in law the appropriate definition of a Waters of the United States. This definition does not expand federal jurisdiction beyond congressional intent, is in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Rapanos decision, and will treat states and stakeholders as partners rather than adversaries. This legislation will provide the certainty the agriculture needs and the finality the American people deserve.”

The text of the Regulatory Certainty for Navigable Waters Act can be found here.

Foxx Cosponsors Bill to Fund the Wall

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC, 5th) cosponsored H.R. 7059, the Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act. The bill appropriates the full amount of funding requested by President Trump to construct a wall along the Southern border, including technology and infrastructure improvements. Additionally, it affirms Congressional opposition to abolishing ICE, supports border patrol agents, penalizes sanctuary cities and combats transnational crimes including human and drug trafficking.

Rep. Foxx stated, “As a nation built upon the rule of law, it is crucial for our national security and integrity that we strengthen and secure our Southern border. Congress should fully cooperate with President Trump’s request for border wall funding because national security is the number one job of the federal government. To keep America safe, we must go further to prevent illegal immigration and other crimes carried out across our Southern border. I am proud to cosponsor the Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act because it gives priority to our national security, will make our country safer and ensure our immigration system is fairer for those who desire to come here lawfully.”

Landmark Bipartisan Carbon Fee Legislation Introduced

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL-22), Congressman Francis Rooney (R-FL-19), Congressman John K. Delaney (D-MD-06), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-08), and Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL-13) introduced bipartisan legislation to price carbon and return 100% of the net revenue as a rebate to American families.

The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA) will help reduce U.S. carbon pollution by 40% in 12 years, with 91% reduction target by 2050 (vs. 2015 levels). This would be achieved by pricing carbon at $15 per metric ton of CO2e and increasing the price by $10 every year. The Treasury Department would return 100% of the net revenue back to the American people, a policy highlighted by a Treasury Department report as helping lower- and middle-income families.

A one-pager on the legislation can be found here, and the text of the legislation can be found here.

A wide range of groups support the legislation, including: Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Leadership Council, The Nature Conservancy, Alliance for Market Solutions, RepublicEn, Conservation Hawks, National Wildlife Federation, National Audobon Society, Conserve America, World Resources Institute, and Applied Ecology for Tropical Resources Program Inc. - ECOTROPICS.

"This aggressive carbon pricing scheme introduced by members from both parties marks an important opportunity to begin to seriously address the immediate threat of climate change," said Congressman Deutch. "The status quo is unsustainable; the time to act is right now."

“To let the free market price out coal we should consider value pricing carbon," Congressman Rooney said. "A revenue-neutral carbon fee is an efficient, market- driven incentive to move toward natural gas and away from coal, and to support emerging alternate sources of energy.”

“If we’re ever going to really mitigate climate change and prevent this looming catastrophe, it’s going to be with legislation like this – a big solution with bipartisan support. Incentives really matter and a carbon tax creates powerful market incentives in the private sector to reduce emissions in the short term and develop alternative energy sources in the long term. This is why I’ve authored my own carbon tax legislation and am proud to cosponsor this bill. The stakes are too high for us not to act and too high for us to be afraid to implement the solutions we know we need. This legislation is a blueprint for how we can combat climate change and bring people together around innovative policy solutions,” said Congressman Delaney.

“Since my first day in Congress, I have committed to finding solutions that mitigate the effects of climate change," Congressman Fitzpatrick said. "We must take a bipartisan, market-driven approach to reduce carbon emissions, which are contributing to atmospheric change, rising sea levels, and more intense natural disasters. I am confident that bipartisan efforts to preserve our environment and protect our way of life for future generations will ultimately succeed.”

"Since organizing Florida's first national climate change summit more than 10 years ago, it’s clear that reducing our carbon dependency is the key to winning this fight. The devastating findings released in last week's report show that the clock is ticking and continued inaction would be catastrophic – for our environment, our economy, and peoples’ health," said Congressman Crist. "We are taking an historic step with introduction of this bipartisan legislation; Congress must act with the urgency this crisis demands."

"This policy has the enthusiastic support of Citizens’ Climate Lobby and our more than 100,000 supporters across the country," said Danny Richter, CCL's VP for Government Affairs. "Those supporters are everyday Americans who are concerned about climate change and want to see Congress work together on a bipartisan solution like this one. We will continue working in districts across America to build support for this policy in this Congress and the next."

"The introduction of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act provides a clear proof of concept that a conservative-inspired carbon dividends framework can attract bipartisan support," Climate Leadership Council Chairman and CEO Ted Halstead said. "It is no coincidence that the first bipartisan climate bill in nearly a decade is based on carbon dividends. A carbon dividends plan that returns all revenues to the American people is uniquely capable of appealing to all sides of the climate debate.”

“This is an ambitious, bipartisan proposal that will help kickstart an essential debate over America’s response to climate change – a debate made all the more urgent by the stark findings of the National Climate Assessment,” said C2ES President Bob Perciasepe. “We and many companies we work with believe strongly that a price on carbon is a critical element of any comprehensive effort to decarbonize the U.S. economy. C2ES applauds Reps. Deutch, Crist, Delaney, Fitzpatrick, and Rooney for their leadership on this vital issue.”

An independent report from Columbia University's Carbon Tax Research Initiative at the Center on Global Energy Policy compared carbon fee proposals and found that the EICDA "would lead to larger emissions reductions, carbon tax revenues and impacts on energy markets by the late 2020s compared to the other carbon tax proposals," "would likely cause emissions to fall below the targets the plan lays out through at least 2030," "would rapidly decarbonize the US power sector," and "low- and middle-income households would receive more in rebates than they pay in taxes."


Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- This week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a proposed rule to lower prescription drug costs and increase transparency surrounding Medicare Parts C and D. Included in the proposal is the bulk of the Phair Pricing Act, which Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced in May 2018 to lower drug costs to Medicare patients at the point of sale.

“Too often, prescription drug middlemen use abusive reimbursement schemes to inflate patient prices and unfairly cripple community health care providers. I’ve seen how much this ultimately leaves communities with higher costs and less access to quality care. President Trump’s administration is taking an incredibly tangible step to ensure that patients at the counter feel the savings that middlemen claim to negotiate on their behalves but have often kept in their own coffers,” said Collins.

Congressman Cleaver Calls For Federal Facial Recognition Technology Testing Standards

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II sent a letter to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), encouraging NIST to endorse industry standards and ethical best practices for the independent testing of demographic-based biases in facial recognition technology. NIST is a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

In the letter to Dr. Walter Copan, NIST Director and U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology, Congressman Cleaver wrote:

“Facial recognition is a powerful tool that is permeating American life, and yet, the propensity of the technology to misidentify individuals, particularly in regard to variances in skin-type and gender, is well-documented,” said Congressman Cleaver. “The potential for illegal discrimination and/or unfair practices resulting from such bias continues to concern lawmakers.”

Congressman Cleaver has been a prominent voice in growing calls for diversity and regulatory reform in the rapidly-expanding tech industry:

• In August 2018, Congressman Cleaver called on the Department of Justice to investigate law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technologies.

• In August 2018, following a year-long investigation into FinTech small business lending practices, Congressman Cleaver announced his findings and called for the implementations of industry-wide practices to prevent discriminatory lending.

• In May 2018, Congressman Cleaver sent a letter to Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, inquiring about the company’s “Rekognition” technology.

• In May 2018, with the support of Congresswomen Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Robin Kelly (D-IL), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Congressman Cleaver wrote a letter to Amazon expressing frustration at the company’s refusal to institute a “Rooney Rule” that would improve the board’s racial diversity.

• In February 2018, Congressman Cleaver urged cryptocurrency companies to do more in efforts to prevent extremists from using cryptocurrency to fund campaigns of hate and violence.

• In November 2017, along with Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Congressman Cleaver demanded the Internet Association—a trade association representing tech behemoths like Amazon, Facebook, and Google—address gender and racial biases among its members.

• In October 2017, in conjunction with Congresswomen Bonnie Watson Coleman, Congressman Cleaver penned a letter to Facebook Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, encouraging them to take immediate action to combat the racially divisive content on their platforms.

“As technology and the tech industry as a whole continue to evolve, it is imperative that standards are created to ensure that technology is being used responsibly and without the potential for discrimination. I look forward to the opportunity to work with NIST on formulating these recommended guidelines,” said Congressman Cleaver.

Read the full letter here.

Congresswoman Cheney Commends President Trump for INF Treaty Decision

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congresswoman Liz Cheney leads a group of House colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump thanking him for his decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty. Please find her statement and the letter below.

“Russia continues to violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a fact recognized by Administrations of both parties. Under these circumstances, the United States is the only nation limited by the requirements of this treaty. In today’s security environment, that is an indefensible situation. The security of our nation requires that we fully develop capabilities to deter or, if necessary, defeat our adversaries. President Trump deserves tremendous credit for recognizing that, after several years of Russian violations, the INF Treaty no longer serves the national security interests of our nation.”

View letter

Castro Statement on Cohen Guilty Plea

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX, 20th), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today released the following statement:

“Today’s guilty plea from Michael Cohen for lying to Congress about Moscow Trump Tower shows that his plea arrangement struck in August has indeed turned into cooperation. This news comes on top of Paul Manafort, former Trump Campaign Chairman, being caught lying to federal prosecutors as well as Roger Stone’s key tipster Jerome Corsi also admitting to lying to Congress. Altogether, these developments demonstrate the great lengths Trump allies were willing to go to protect the President.

“It’s critical we bring back Michael Cohen, and others who have potentially lied like Roger Stone before the Committee, in addition to accelerating the pace for Republican colleagues to release transcripts from our interviews. The House Intelligence Committee must also zero-in on whether the Russians have any financial leverage over President Trump, and we must build pressure across the board for Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to recuse himself from this investigation immediately.

“In just one week, we’ve see Michael Cohen plead guilty to lying to Congress, Jerome Corsi publically admit to lying to Congress, Paul Manafort caught for lying to Mueller, reports that Roger Stone and Julian Assange may have met right before a Wikileaks dump, the President provide written statements on the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting and Roger Stone’s Wikileaks knowledge, and Mueller zeroing in on late-night phone calls between Roger Stone and the President. Now more than ever, we need to protect Mueller from any potential firing. I urge House and Senate Republican leaders to bring legislation to protect Mueller to the floor immediately. We shouldn’t have to wait until January for Congress to protect U.S. national security, our democracy, and the rule of law.”

Congressman Cohen Will Reintroduce Constitutional Amendment to Limit the President’s Pardon Power

Washington, D.C. - November 29, 2018 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN, 9th), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, announced today his intention to reintroduce his constitutional amendment to limit the President’s pardon power when the new Congress convenes in January.

Last year, following the indictment of Paul Manafort, Congressman Cohen introduced H. J. Res. 120, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit presidents from pardoning themselves, as well as members of their family, their administration and campaign staff.

“President Trump’s overtures to his convicted former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pose a dangerous threat to the rule of law and are not what the Founders intended when they included the pardon power in the Constitution. The pardon power is supposed to serve justice, not thwart it. It was never meant to immunize presidents’ families and close advisors against laws the rest of us must obey. That’s what kings and dictators do, and if there is one thing the Founders made clear, it was that we don’t have kings in the United States of America.”

“Manafort is not the only convicted former Trump advisor facing serious questions about the legality of their conduct. Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos have all been convicted or pleaded guilty, and questions remain about the conduct of Roger Stone and even Trump’s son and son-in-law. We need to limit the scope of the pardon power to protect the rule of law.”

The amendment would apply to the current as well as future presidents.